Advancement to B quarterfinals has familiar taste for PDS

Panther baseball squad pulls off comeback

By: Bob Nuse
   The Princeton Day School baseball team is no stranger to big comebacks.
   A year ago the Panthers entered the state Prep B tournament with just one win, then proceeded to win four straight games to capture the state championship.
   In Saturday’s opening-round game of this year’s Prep B tournament, PDS found itself in a 4-0 hole in the second inning against Oratory Prep. But from that point on, Parker Curtis did his part on the mound and the offense came through as the Panthers posted a 6-4 win.
   With the victory, Princeton Day advanced to the Prep B quarterfinals, where they will play at fifth-seeded Montclair Kimberley 4 p.m, today.
   "We got off to a bad start," said PDS coach Bruce Devlin, whose team evened its record at 8-8 with the win. "Parker gave up a couple of walks in the first inning and they both scored. And then in the second he walked one, then we misplayed a couple of balls and they scored two more to go up, 4-0.
   "But then Parker shut them down after that and we came back. It was a nice win for us. The guys are really confident. Parker pitched a great game after those first couple innings. He was never in trouble after the first couple innings."
   And while Curtis was keeping the Oratory Prep bats in check, the Panther bats started chipping away at the lead. The Panthers scored three times in the second, with the big hit coming from Bill Caulin, who had a two-run double.
   Anthony Bernazard got the Panthers even when he doubled and scored on consecutive wild pitches in the fourth inning. Jeremy Johnson put the Panthers ahead when he doubled in James Bird, then scored on an error.
   So, while the Cougars may be the 12th seed in the Prep B tournament, past history says they certainly have a shot at capturing a state title.
   "The kids all feel like we have a better team this year than we did last year," Devlin said. "We haven’t lost a game yet this year to a Prep B school. But we’re seeded low because we haven’t had a chance to play those teams before the seeding.
   "We’ve got a lot of young guys, which is exciting. The kids have really taken to what we’ve been teaching them and they’re exciting about this tournament. We’ll have to go on the road for the all the games, but that’s something they’ve dealt with before."
   The Panthers will deal with the road. And along the way the opposition will need to deal with the speed of PDS, led by Bernazard. The freshman shortstop stole three bases on Saturday and has now stolen 31 in 31 attempts this year.
   "He does so much once he gets on base," Devlin said. "He takes away from the pitcher’s concentration because they know he’s such a threat to steal. And he’s always on base. He’s batting .571 this year, which is just incredible."